Jan. 25, 2014
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After kicking off the 2014 season with a pair of dominating wins over Eastern Michigan and Northern Iowa, the Minnesota women’s tennis team will get back to work with its second doubleheader of the season. The Gophers will look to improve to 3-0 Sunday at 10 a.m. in a match against North Dakota before they finish the day with a match against South Dakota State at 4 p.m. Both matches will be played at the Baseline Tennis Center.
In head coach Chuck Merzbacher’s second season with the team, the Gophers are off to a 2-0 start after a 6-1 win over Eastern Michigan and a 7-0 trouncing of Northern Iowa a week ago. If Minnesota can win both of its matches Sunday, the team will be off to its first 4-0 start since 1997 and seventh four-win start all-time.
About North Dakota
North Dakota will open its season Sunday morning at the Baseline Tennis Center. UND went 3-16 a year ago and will return three players from a year ago. Those returnees—Callie Ronkowski, Stephanie Biehn, and Stephanie Petsis—combined for a 21-30 record in singles a year ago. The roster also includes four freshmen and three Minnesota natives.
About South Dakota State
Picked to finish third in the Summit League, South Dakota State opens its season Saturday with a match at Wisconsin-Green Bay before heading to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers. SDSU, which went 15-10 in 2013, has two seniors and five sophomores on its eight-player roster.
Against North Dakota
All-time the Gophers have only met border foe UND twice and the two teams haven’t met since 1980. Minnesota won the 1980 match, 9-0, and triumphed by the same score in the schools’ first meeting in 1977.
Despite the face that UND ventured to Minnesota for the Gopher Invitational in the fall, the teams only met once. Kelsey Frechette downed Steph Petsis 6-3, 6-2 in an opening day singles match.
Against South Dakota State
Minnesota will play SDSU for the second time ever Sunday evening. The Gophers won the teams’ only meeting by a 7-0 in 2008.
The Jackrabbit also visited the Baseline Tennis Center in the fall for the Gopher Invitational. Minnesota went 2-1 against SDSU in singles with straight-set wins by Tereza Brichacova over Florencia Magni and Aria Lambert over Ffion Davies. The Gophers also won two of three doubles matches against South Dakota State in the tournament. The Jackrabbits’ lone win marked Brichacova and Paula Rincon Otero’s only loss of the weekend and it was decided by a 9-8 (12) score.
After an impressive fall that saw her win nine singles matches, junior Tereza Brichacova is the 65th-ranked player in the nation, according to the ITA. Brichacova won the top flight at the Gopher Invitational and made a run to the quarterfinal round at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship that included a win over 15th-ranked Samantha Vickers of Tulsa. She is off to a 2-0 start after straight sets wins at No. 2 against Eastern Michigan and at No. 1 versus Northern Iowa.
The Gophers look improved thus far in doubles competition. Last week, Minnesota went 6-0 in doubles matches to sweep EMU and UNI. In 2013, the Maroon and Gold finished dual match play with an even 32-32 record in doubles.
Match Format Changes
The ITA Women's Operating Committee has approved and mandated a new ITA Women's Experimental Format to be played from Jan. 1 through the ITA Women's Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 10. The dual meet will consist of three doubles matches played first (worth a total of one point), followed by six singles matches, each individual match worth one point. Four points are required to win the team match. The three doubles matches will each consist of one set, with regular scoring and a tiebreaker at 6-all. Once a team has won two doubles matches, the remaining doubles match shall not be completed. Six singles matches will follow the doubles. Each singles match is two out of three sets, with each set using regular scoring, and a match tiebreaker in lieu of the third set.